Monday, June 16, 2008

On The Future of the Internet

The story in South Korea today is that Internet strategies are behind the recent, well-organized street protests involving hundreds of thousands of people. I'm at a huge conference in Seoul this week on The Future of the Internet. Sponsor is the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OCED), the influential international organization that promotes economic growth for democratic nations.

This is a so-called ministerial conference involving cabinet-level participation from member countries. So it's been interesting timing here to witness this big conference setting global policies for the Net occurring while across town demonstrators are using the web as a means of political organizing and resistance, mostly with an anti-global theme.

Just shows how ubiquitous the Net has become in our lives.

I'm here with Elon's program to chronicle the hopes and fears of key players in the continuing development of the Net. See our nice website at

We'll be adding video interviews with a few dozen people we're interviewing now. I'm along with two of our top communications students, who are getting a great learning experience while they handle the videography and interviewing.

Among the stakeholders here are representatives of civil society -- reps from consumer groups, labor groups and others organizations focused on protesting users' rights online. Among the speakers is Marc Rotenberg, founder of The Public Voice, who will be keynote speaker at the AEJMC conference this August in Chicago. The Public Voice is a network of civic groups seeking to speaking up on behalf of the public interest.

This is not a conference on journalism, but journalists of all types should be concerned with the policies being reaffirmed here (mostly) to maintain the net as a place of global commerce and open expression. As I write this, I'm hearing a speaker, Tae-Won Chey, chairman of he SK Group, say, "We've got to figure how to make the Internet a better place."

Next up, Josh Silverman, president of Skype, who reaffirms the values of open digital communication. He says, "the consumer always wins in the end." This is a common statement at this conference -- a message we should remember as we explore how participatory journalism will extend in the future. What distingues Net communication is that users are going to seek out what Silverman calls unarticulated needs. In seeking them, he says, consumers create "game-changing" practices that reshape online methods.

His message then: We should be interested in reaching and sharing with our audiences in whatever method they like best. Not according to what we want best.

I'll try to add more notes later.

1 comment:

Jack Rosenberry, CCJIG Chair said...

Sounds like an amazing event. And in a highly appropriate venue. Other countries tend to be out ahead of the curve on use of the Internet and related technologies; for instance, cell-phone text-messaging was popular in Asia (Japan, Korea) and Europe a couple of years before it took the U.S. by storm. So, what some of the experts at this conference, particularly the Korean ones, are saying could provide an important bellwether for where the U.S. will be in a few years.